Free Speech Policy


Subject: Governance and Organization

Policy:Freedom of Expression Policy

Effective Date: September 7, 2011

Revised Date: February 2, 2012

Review Date: September, 2014

Responsible Party: Office of Legal Counsel


Introduction and Purpose

MSU recognizes that the freedom of expression is integral to the purpose and process of the University, whose primary goal is education. Therefore, no University policy or rule will infringe upon this constitutional right.

Policy

MSU supports and encourages diverse points of view, though they may sometimes seem distasteful or offensive, as this is the nature of the University’s educational responsibility and is safeguarded by the freedom of expression. The acceptance of diversity is a fundamental tenant of the Land Grant University system, and is instrumental to the creation of new discourses and the weighing of different views.
MSU recognizes the First Amendment rights to expression.  These rights include individual and group activities including but not limited to:

  • Assembling,
  • Demonstrating,
  • Signing,
  • Pamphleting,
  • Structuring, and
  • Political campaigning.

Procedures

The right to freedom of speech includes exercising it responsibly, including abiding by the following:      

  • The use of violence, or credible threats of violence, is strictly prohibited.
  • Activities which infringe upon the rights of another person are prohibited in accordance with Section 220.00 of the Facilities Use Manual.
  • Activities may not obstruct the free flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic on campus.
  • Activities may not use sound amplification except with prior written approval in accordance with Section 230.000 A of the Facilities Use Manual.
  • Activities may not block the entrances or exits to any campus building or facility.
    • A distance of 50 feet from any building or facility must be kept to alleviate the interruption of the flow of campus community traffic.
    • To exercise expression at closer than this buffer area, permission must be granted in writing by the relevant Building Supervisor.
    • No expression activities are allowed within any university buildings, facilities, stadiums, or temporary event facilities such as tents etc., unless the facility use is duly approved in accordance with the Facilities Use Manual Sections 1000 and 1100.
  • Printed materials, writing, or other tangible means of expression may not be attached to University property, including sidewalks, trees, walls, or other property (including on vehicles parked on campus), except: (1) that such materials may be placed on outdoor bulletin boards designated as public bulletin boards--all postings on public bulletin boards will be removed at regular intervals; and (2) banners promoting a University or ASMSU sponsored event may be displayed at the following locations:
    • On the Wilson Hall bridge upon prior approval from the building supervisor.
    • From the cables inside the atrium on the north side of Reid Hall upon prior approval from the Building Supervisor.
    • Banners tied or wrapped on no more than two columns, on the Student Union Building’s west entry, upon prior approval from the Director of Auxiliaires.
  • Printed materials, writings, or other tangible means of expression may not be placed on any interior surface of any University building without the written permission of the relevant Building Supervisor and in accordance with the rules established for each building.  
  • Activities may not disrupt, block, or physically displace performers/programs that have reserved a venue or facility.
  • Individuals or groups may not permanently occupy land areas or permanently place signs and posters. This prohibition includes but is not limited to the erection of permanent structures, shelters, or camps.
  • Activities may not interfere with classes, university work, arts and cultural activities, research, or scheduled events. 
  • Individuals and organizations are responsible for cleanup and for any cleanup costs resulting to the University from their activities.
  • Individuals and organizations are responsible for the content of any signage, pamphlets, or structure that they post, distribute, or erect on campus. Furthermore, the University reminds any organization distributing materials to be aware of laws concerning defamation, obscenity, fair labor practices, etc.
  • In Family & Graduate Housing, political campaign activities may be conducted door-to-door.No political campaign activities are allowed inside any MSU buildings, facilities or stadiums, or temporary facilities such as tents, except by written invitation of an official University organization in conjunction with a specific event and with the advance approval of Conference Services.